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Friday, February 9, 2018

THE LOSS OF A FRIEND

On January 27, 2018, I lost a dear friend.  Wow.  That phrase is getting harder to say because it is happening more often.

Linda Marie Marchese Schulle was born August 14, 1956. To know Linda was to love Linda. She went to high school with me. I didn't really know her in school. She was a cheerleader, so I knew who she was, but we weren't "friends".  At one of the class reunions, we became reacquainted.

I can remember, in 2010, Linda was diagnosed with Stage 3c breast cancer. Her husband is self-employed and they did not have insurance or had really bad insurance.  So, our classmates did a fund-raiser for her. I saw her about a year later at a class reunion and we talked about her health, her family, and her faith. Linda had a faith that never waivered through her illness. She was very outspoken of her trust in God and her appeals to Him. She prayed for a miracle. I prayed for a miracle. Hundreds prayed for a miracle. I sent Linda a card every week and included either a Bible verse or words of encouragement. We became official penpals.  Our connection became deep. Our connection became fused in our souls. Funny, her words to me when she received her card were encouragement to me. Who was suppose to be encouraging who?

Linda was one of the Travelin' Tiger Ladies. If you don't know what that is, you can read a previous blog explaining that special group of ladies. (https://lifeinarv.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-traveling-lady-tigers.html)  She was our core, our heart.  Her smile could light up a room. She had a heart of mercy and tenderness for everyone. Her husband told me a story of how Linda and a few ladies at her church were the "choir".  They had practiced music for this particular Easter service. The day before, the priest told them that they would not be singing.  He had arranged for someone else to do the music.  The other ladies were very upset and had their feelings hurt.  Linda thought about it for a couple of days and then went to the ladies and the priest and smoothed everything out with everyone while remaining empathetic to each party. Are you getting a sense of how special she was?

When one of our Travelin' Tiger Ladies "outings" was planned, Linda was the first to sign-up to attend.  She was making the most of her time left on this earth to really live.  One of the things we all learn as we get older is that it isn't the possession we have or the money we have accumulated or the position we have in our careers that are important .  It is the people we have in our lives that are the most important.  The relationships we are entrusted with. Thank God He allowed Linda to be one of those people in my life! There is an empty spot in my heart now that she is gone. On our last outing, Linda made a banner for our Travelin' Tiger Ladies. She told us all that she wanted this banner to go on every outing with us.  It would represent her when she was no longer with us. None of us wanted to even imagine that happening. January 27, 2018, it did. I'm not sure how our outings will be without her.

Because of her faith, I know that someday I will see Linda again.  The next time we see each other, it will be forever.  This life on earth is only for a short time.  In heaven, we will be with our loved ones forever.  So, I believe Linda is looking down on us and "cheering" us on as we run this race called life. Of course, I also believe that I will be a size 6 in heaven!  I do know that Linda is no longer in immense pain, she has 2 breasts again, she is not scarred by radiation and she is not having to worry about her "fake boob" floating out of her swim suit and having to catch it!

Please pray for her husband, her 3 grown children, and her 3 grandchildren.  They are broken-hearted. I am broken-hearted.  Special friends are few and far between.  It is hard to lose one. How do you send a text or make a phone call to heaven?

However, this one thing I know.  Linda would want us all to move through our grief and celebrate this life we have and live it to the fullest.  So, on our next outing, I hope the Travelin' Tiger Ladies will laugh long and laugh loud.  Linda may not be there in her physical being, but I know her spirit will be there in someone's smile, some words spoken, some hug given.

I miss you terribly Linda Schulle, but I will see you again.


Friday was the day we laid you rest.
But you know what they say,
God only takes the best.

Everything happens for a reason,
even if we don't agree.
Just promise to look after us,
and save a spot for me.

It is hard to not question,
what God has planned.
Sometimes it is not meant,
for us to understand.

So, as I sit here and mourn,
the loss of my precious friend.
I will treasure my memories,
until we meet again.






Thursday, September 14, 2017

HURRICANE HARVEY

As many of you know, I am from H-town. I was born and raised there. My children and grandchildren live there. My roots run deep there. I have been through multiple tropical storms and several hurricanes. However, we have never experienced anything like a hurricane named Harvey.

When I first met Harvey, he was a tropical storm around the Yucatan Peninsula with a not well developed eye. Because of that, he wasn't strengthening. All the weather guys were keeping an eye on him as he entered the Gulf of Mexico. The water is around 90 degrees in the Gulf during August/September and that warm water fueled Harvey and helped him develop into a category 4 storm. Harvey made landfall in Rockport, TX on August 26th.
Houston has seen rapid urban development (urban sprawl), with absorbent prairie and wetlands replaced by hard surfaces which rapidly shed storm water, overwhelming the drainage capacity of the rivers and channels. Between 1992 and 2010 almost 25,000 acres of wetlands were lost, decreasing the detention capacity of the region by four billion gallons. However, Harvey was estimated to have dropped more than fifteen trillion gallons of water in the area. Let that sink in for a minute.
Throughout Texas, more than 300,000 people were left without electricity and billions of dollars of property damage was sustained. As of September 6, at least 69 fatalities have been confirmed, although that number was expected to rise.By August 29, 2017 approximately 13,000 people had been rescued across the state while an estimated 30,000 were displaced. The refinery industry capacity was reduced, and oil and gas production was affected in the Gulf of Mexico and inland Texas. On Monday, various news outlets announced the closure of oil refineries ahead of Hurricane Harvey, creating an artificial fuel shortage. Panicked, motorists waited in long lines. Consequently, gas stations through the state were forced to close due to the rush.
More than 48,700 homes were affected by Harvey throughout the state, including over 1,000 that were completely destroyed and more than 17,000 that sustained major damage; approximately 32,000 sustained minor damage. Nearly 700 businesses were damaged as well.Texas Department of Public Safety stated more than 185,000 homes were damaged and 9,000 destroyed. With peak accumulations of 51.88 in, Harvey is the wettest tropical hurricane on record in the contiguous United States. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues.

The local National Weather Service office in Houston observed all-time record daily rainfall accumulations on both August 26 and 27, measured at 14.4 in and 16.08 in respectively. Multiple flash flood emergencies were issued in the Houston area by the National Weather Service beginning the night of August 26. In Pearland, a suburb south of Houston, a report was made of 9.92 in of rainfall in 90 minutes.The 39.11 in of rain in August made the month the wettest ever recorded in Houston since record keeping began in 1892, more than doubling the previous record of 19.21 inches in June 2001.  Over a 4 day period, the accumulation of rain was almost 52 inches.

An estimated 25-30% of Harris County, roughly 444 miles of land, was completely submerged.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott deployed the state's entire National Guard for search and rescue, recovery, and clean up operations due to the devastating damage caused by the storm and resulting floods. Other states' National Guard's have offered assistance, with several having already been sent.  Meanwhile, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement assigned approximately 150 employees from around the country to assist with disaster relief efforts, while stating that no immigration enforcement operations would be conducted.
Approximately 32,000 people were displaced in shelters across the state by August 31. The George R. Brown Convention Center, the state's largest shelter, reached capacity with 8,000 evacuees. The NRG Center opened as a large public shelter accordingly. More than 210,000 people registered with FEMA for disaster assistance.
The Cajun Navy, an informal organization of volunteers with boats from Louisiana, deployed to Texas to assist in high-water rescues.
Based on current damage estimates made by multiple agencies, Hurricane Harvey is likely to be at least the second-most costly natural disaster in U.S. history, behind only Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Moody's Analytics has estimated the total economic cost of the storm at $81 billion to $108 billion or more; most of the economic losses are damage to homes and commercial property. USA Today reported an AccuWeather estimate of $190 billion, released August 31. On September 3, Texas state governor Greg Abbott estimated that damages will be between $150 billion and $180 billion, surpassing the $120 billion that it took to rebuild New Orleans after Katrina.  According to weather analytics firm Planalytics, lost revenue to Houston area retailers and restaurants alone will be approximately $1 billion. The Houston area controls 4% of the spending power in the United States.
A significant portion of the storm's damages may be uninsured losses. Regular homeowner insurance policies generally exclude coverage for flooding, as the National Flood Insurance Program underwrites most flood insurance policies in the US.  Although the purchase of flood insurance is obligatory for federally guaranteed mortgages for homes within the 100-year flood plain, enforcement of the requirement is difficult and many homes, even within the 100-year flood plain, lack flood insurance. Most of the homes/areas flooded had never flooded before and were under no flood area requiring the flood insurance.
The clean up in Houston is going to take a long time. Some residents' lives have been changed forever. Many people have stepped up to help financially and others have given of their time and efforts to help. Strangers were rescuing strangers and there has been a true unity among all in the efforts to rebuild. Please continue to pray for Houston and for all of those affected by this storm.











Friday, July 28, 2017

PLATORA

When we first talked with the lady who rented us jeeps, Mr. W asked her a lot of questions about the Alpine Loop.  He also asked her questions about doing other roads that would or would not require 4-wheel drive.  Our friend, Jim, who is here too, has a 4-wheel drive truck.  But there is a difference between roads that you NEED a 4-wheel drive vehicle and roads that you would be WILLING to take you 4-wheel drive vehicle.  We were interested in the roads that Jim would be willing to take his truck. 

She had told Mr. W about a beautiful drive to Summitville and if you went up that road, you could do an off-shoot on another road that would take you to Platora and supposedly Platora had a place where you could get a good hamburger. Now you have my attention. Have you noticed that I will go just about anywhere for good food? And I wonder why I can't lose weight. So, yesterday we decided to take the drive for a good hamburger, oh wait, I mean a drive to see beautiful scenery.

Jim took his truck and we started up.  We had gone up to Summitville on a previous drive and we started out on the same road and then cut off on a different road and began to see some gorgeous stuff. The wildflowers were everywhere.  They have yellow, purple, white, and blue. The animals weren't out as much as before, but we did see a few deer.  There had been mining in this area and there is a lot of acidic water which causes some of the mountains to be red and copper colored.  The colors were beautiful.  Wondering why I'm not posting pics of this beauty? Well, I took a ton of pics but had no card in my camera. Duh! I HATE it when that happens! Yes, I have done it before. You would think that I would learn.

We finally reached Platora after a 2 1/2 hour drive and it is a small little village in the middle of no where.  There is a lodge that has a diner, a store that sells souvenirs, and a small grocery store (that's a liberal use of the term grocery store).  There are the Conejo Cabins which advertise completely remodeled, updated cabins.  We did find out that there is 1 other place to eat there.  That café is over at the RV park. That is another liberal use of the term RV park. There is water and electricity hook-ups, but no sewer. I didn't see a dump station.

Everyone working in the diner were young people.  I mean like high school/college age.  We struck up a conversation with a couple of the young people.  The young lady we talked to was from the Bahamas.  We asked her how in the world she ended up here.  She had had a job. She quit her job and had gone home. She didn't like being home, so she started looking on the internet for a job. The man who owns the lodge/diner was the only person who responded.  This is her third year working there. The owner flies her in, picks her up at the airport, and then does the same at the end of the season.  She comes in the first of May and works until the first of October. 

Our waiter told us that his Mom played cards with the owner's wife and that's how he found out about his job.  He is from Mansfield, TX. This is his second year.  The crazy thing is, there is no internet connection, no phone service, no cable TV, no nothing that young people usually have to have. You are completely disconnected when you are there. There is a north road in and out and a south road in and out.  Both are gravel and require 4-wheel drive. Both are around 2 to 2 1/2 hours to the nearest town.  Our waiter said he really liked being this remote. He likes to fish and does a lot of it. He doesn't have a girlfriend, so at some point, that may change.

The lady working the register had recently retired from the Federal prison system in Dallas, TX. Her sister and brother-in-law own the place. She told us that her parents had started coming there on vacation in 1961 and had never gone any place else on vacation. We also learned that the whole community shuts down by the middle of October. They receive anywhere from 200 to 300 inches of snow each year.  They received 37 feet last year. Most of the cabins are completely covered with snow. When the owners receive word from the Colorado highway department that the road has been cleared and they can get to the lodge, a lot of times there are still outside doors of the lodge that can't be opened until they shovel snow. 

The most important thing to know is we ordered their hamburger. Boy, was it good. I tried to figure out if I thought it was so good because I was so hungry or if it was so good because it was just so good.  It was just that good.  The diner sells breakfast until 11:00. They have lunch items that they also sell at dinner, but they have dinner items that they start selling at 5:00 pm. We asked if everyone there ate all of their meals at the diner. We were told that a lot of the people bring their own food and do their own cooking.  It would be a long way to a real grocery store so you better make sure you have all you need! They had a small fire going in the fireplace because it was 50 degrees outside and raining.  We had on shorts and flip flops. The warmth felt good.

So, after eating our really good hamburgers, we headed out on the 2 1/2 hour trip back to South Fork. If you have a big part of a day to go up gravel roads, see some beautiful sites, and eat a really good hamburger, go to Platora. It is an interesting place.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

CREEDE REPERTORY THEATRE

We went to the Creede Repertory Theatre today. We had been told that it was one of the best things to do in the area.

The Creede Repertory Theatre (CRT) was founded in 1966 when 12 students from the University of Kansas came to Creede, Colorado, responding to a letter drafted by the Creede Junior Chamber of Commerce and Pastor Jim Livingston. The letter was a call for help. With the mining business declining in Creede, the town needed a new source of viable income to help sustain the smaller businesses and its year-round residents. Steve Grossman, a theatre student at KU, was the only one who responded to the letter. He took 11 students with him and together they launched the first of many summer theatre seasons in Creede. The first season began with the opening of Mr. Roberts and continued with the showing of The Bat, Our Town, The Rainmaker, and Born Yesterday. The shows were run in repertory format which allowed patrons to see a new play each night of the week.

Fifty-two years later, the theatre continues to operate on the principles established by Grossman and the KU theatre students. CRT maintains a rigorous repertory schedule, continues to employ an ensemble cast and crew, and is committed to choosing a diverse selection of plays. In 2005, USA Today ranked CRT as one of the “10 great places to see lights way off Broadway.” The 2006 company received 11 Ovation nominations from the Denver Post. In 2007, CRT was awarded the National Theatre Conference’s Award of Outstanding Achievement. Presently, CRT is the largest summer employer in all of Mineral County.

So, we saw She Loves Me. She Loves Me is a musical with a book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock. The musical is the third adaptation of the play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László, following the 1940 James Stewart-Margaret Sullavan film The Shop Around the Corner and the 1949 Judy Garland-Van Johnson musical version In The Good Old Summertime. It surfaced again in 1998 as the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan feature You've Got Mail. The plot revolves around Budapest shop employees Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash who, despite being consistently at odds with each other at work, are unaware that each is the other's secret pen pal met through lonely-hearts ads.

The musical premiered on Broadway  in 1963, and subsequently had productions in the West End in 1964 and award-winning revivals on each side of the Atlantic in the 1990s, as well as regional productions. She Loves Me was revived again on Broadway in 2016, and the production became the first Broadway show ever to be live-streamed.

It has been the "hit" for the CRT this summer.  It one of several shows presented at the theater. Arsenic and Old Lace is also one of the popular shows. They have 2 shows for kids and they also offer a summer camp for kids to learn theater. They also offer a improv show and several jazz sessions after some of the shows.

This is definitely as must do if you are in the area. I will definitely be back.



We sat on the front row of the balcony. This was the view looking down.

The cast

Looking down main street Creede

In real life, it looks like someone put a screen up at the end of the street. Pictures just can't capture it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

RIVERBEND RV PARK

We have been staying at Riverbend RV Park.  It is in South Fork, Colorado.  Some of you may know this park as Kamp Komfort  in the movie National Lampoons Vacation. Yep, that's right. In the office, you will find pictures of scenes filmed here hanging on the walls.  There is also the bell that Chevy Chase rang and rang and rang and......you get the idea, in the movie. The south fork of the Rio Grande River runs right behind the park. There are no cabins on the river.  However, for the movie, they built several small, open-air type cabins on the river.  All are gone now except for the cabin in which Chevy Chase's family stayed for the night.  They even sell T-shirts with Kamp Komfort on the shirt.


This park has a lot of character. South Fork is the youngest town in Colorado.  It became a town in 1992.  One of the ladies here has been coming here since it opened. Her name is Dorothy and she knows everyone. She is in her 80s and is still going strong. She has a green thumb and takes care of all of the plants and flowers here. She loves children of all ages.  And she can tell where anything is, what you need to see, where to fish, and what time or day any special event is happening. There are quite a few people here that come back year after year. Some stay all summer. Some stay for a month or a couple of weeks or several days. It is hard to get reservations. We just happened upon these reservations quite by accident and luck. 

There are several other RV parks in South Fork. We have checked most of them out and quite truthfully, I like where we are best.  The trout fishing is good.  They have Sunday evening ice cream and Bingo, Tuesday night card Bingo, Thursday night pot luck, Tuesday morning breakfasts, and occasionally some other special event.  Every evening they show a movie through their cable channels so you can watch on your own TV in your own RV. They post the name of the movie at the office each day. They have a laundry room with 3 washers and 4 dryers. There is a game room, a playground, and a community center.


Part of the playground


The laundry room

Besides the 51 campsites, they have several cabins. They range anywhere from 1 bedroom to 3 bedrooms. I haven't seen inside one, but the outside look like log cabins. There are people who rent the cabins each year too. Reservations are hard to come by.

One of the cabins

You can rent by the month for $526 a month/plus electricity if you are in one of the sites that is not a river view.  If the site is river view, it is $576 a month/plus electricity. They require a $50 deposit. Not bad for this area. The young couple that are the owners are in the process of doing a lot of updates. They are converting 30 amp sites to 50 amp this fall. They are working everyday to update things and to keep everything in working order. This couple is from Arlington, Texas and wanted to move their kids to a smaller town with an easier lifestyle. They are very nice people. One thing I can say is everyone has gone out of their way to try to make our stay very enjoyable.

We have already reserved our site for next July. We are in the process of making a list of things we want to do next year because we are getting to the age where we might not remember!

Notice the swing


You walk down these steps to get to the river.
 
 

Our site


Monday, July 24, 2017

GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK

We went to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It is really quite amazing to look out at the mountains and see gigantic sand dunes right up against the mountains. It just isn't suppose to be that way.



The dunes were formed from sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over the ages, glaciers feeding the river and the vast lake that existed upon the valley melted, and the waters evaporated. Westerly winds picked up sand particles from the lake and river flood plain. As the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are slowly growing. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily. Scientist agree that the dunes are probably less than 440,000 years old.  What? Less than 440,000 years old? Who gives stats like that? Are they giving themselves room for error by 400,000 years? 



There are several streams flowing on the perimeter of the dunes. The streams erode the edge of the dune field, and sand is carried downstream. The water disappears into the ground, depositing sand on the surface. Winds pick up the deposits of sand, and blow them up onto the dune field once again.
Digging a couple inches into the dunes even at their peaks reveals wet sand. Part of the motivation of turning the Monument into a National Park was the extra protection of the water, which Colorado's cities and agriculture covet.

Many visitors (that would be use) to the site try to sled down the dunes. The Park Service provides hints as to the best time to sled (when the sand is wet) and which equipment works best. The Oasis store/restaurant/cabins/campground, located right outside the park will rent sand boards for you to sled down the dunes.  They are $20 for all day.  We decided we could share one.




It is very easy to experience the dune-building process. This is a very windy region, as many of our friends who have visited will attest, as on many days they will be pelted by sand and even small rocks when hiking on the dunes. We were fortunate in that it was not windy on the day we visited. Of course that made it hotter too. The wind carries sand and rocks from many miles away. While the dunes don't change location or size that often, there are still parabolic dunes that start in the sand sheet, the outer area around the dunes, and migrate towards the main dune field. Sometimes they join the main dune field, and sometimes they will get covered with grass and vegetation and remain where they are. The dunes are relatively stable; however, they change slightly with the seasons. The direction of the wind greatly affects the dune type. The winds normally go from southwest to northeast; however, during the late summer months, the wind direction reverses causing reversing dunes. This wind regime is part of the reason why the dunes are so tall.




Visitors anytime other than late fall through early spring are also advised to avoid bare feet or sandals, and stick with sturdy, closed footwear. While the sand looks alluring, its chocolate color absorbs heat. The daylight sand temperature can reach 140 °F (60 °C) and will burn bare feet. I can attest to that. I wore flip flops and as I walked on the soft sand, it covered my feet.  The sand was burning my feet.  Mr. W. gave me his shoes and he took off running.  He would run as far as he could go and then he would put the sand board down and stand on it to let his feet cool off.  When I caught up with him, he would start running again.  Repeating the same procedure.  What a guy!


One of the most unusual features of the park happens at Medano Creek, which borders the east side of the dunes and is located next to the Visitor Center and Bookstore. Because fresh sand continually falls in the creek, Medano Creek never finds a permanent and stable streambed. Small underwater sand dunes that act like dams continually form and break down, and so waders in the stream see surges—which look like waves—of water flowing downstream at intervals of anywhere from just a few seconds to a minute or more. In a high-water year, these surges can be as much as a foot in height, resembling ocean waves. Building sand castles with the creek sand is a popular visitor activity, and Skimboarding is a great activity for young people to do because only an inch or two of creek depth is needed. Zapata Falls is a waterfall on the southeast side of the park and requires a short hike through a small cave to access. We didn't make it to Zapata Falls.  We are saving that for another time.


When we returned our board to the Oasis, we decided to have lunch in their restaurant.  This was our view. I have never seen 6 hummingbirds eating out of the same feeder at the same time.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

PENITENTE CANYON

Mr. W and I haven't done any hiking since our friends have been here because one couple doesn't like to hike and the other couple, the wife has severe asthma.  Since they are both gone this week, Mr. W decided that we would go on a hike through Penitente Canyon.  It is suppose to be a 3 mile hike.  Some how the song from Gilligan's Island kept going through my mind repeating the words, "a 3 hour tour."

The master hiker

The not so master hiker

A fascinating history, unique geology and extreme recreation can all be found in the recesses of Penitente Canyon, on the western edge of the San Luis Valley in Saguache County.
Located just outside the village of La Garita, the canyon was originally know as Cañon de Rajadero (Woodsplitter Canyon),  after a pit sawmill located there in the 1800s. (This involved a person standing in a pit operating one end of a two-handled saw with another standing above the log on the other handle.) Old wagon tracks can be also found embedded in the rocks within the colorful canyon — remnants of wood gathering activity from that time period. Lumber milled in the canyon was used to build the original Catholic church in La Garita which has since burned down.

Pictographs (painted panels) discovered there depict game drives through the canyon pre-dating even the Spanish settlement of the area. Angie Krall, an archeologist with the U. S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), believes the panels were created by either Puebloan, Apache or Ute tribes. The agencies are drawing up plans to preserve the quickly fading ancient art. The canyon, which is now managed by the BLM, was once part of the vast Guadeloupe Land Grant — Spanish lands that were lost to the U.S. during the Mexican American War.

Pictograph
Other rock art found in the canyon depicts what may have been a large “net” set up at a narrow location in the canyon designed to trap game chased between the high rocks by native hunters.  Colorado native, Alex Colville, who has been exploring the canyon for much of his 77 years saw the potential of using this rock canyon as a place for rock climbers and helped establish some of the original rock climbing routes in the 1980s for which the canyon is best known today.

One of the rock climbers there
For a time the canyon was also known as Capulin Canyon, named for the chokecherry bushes found there in abundance, but it was a daring act by three Hispanic men in the early 1980s which led to the name by which the canyon is now known. The men, members of the Penitente church who lived in the area, decided to paint a mural to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose image, it is said, miraculously appeared on the cloak of an indigenous peasant near Mexico City in 1531, and who is highly revered by Mexican Catholics.


The story has it that the men tied their three lariats together and attached them to an old tire which was lowered over the canyon wall and held both painter and the cans of paint. Using a pallet of red, blue, black and white, they rendered the likeness of the Virgin against the red rock high up above the canyon floor. Atop the mural they painted in red the words “Con Sufrimiento y Consuelo” which translates to “With Suffering and Consolation.” Others have suggested the faded words read “Consuelo y Espiritu” (Comfort and Courage).

The men also painted their names on the rocks at the base of the mural — Victor, Abel and Victor — signatures which are quickly fading due to erosion and weathering. But it didn’t take long before a drunk man with a pistol decided to use the painting for target practice and shot it up, completely obliterating the face and leaving pockmarks in and around it. Two climbers, Tom Helvie and Anna Kekesi, who rappelled down the wall and plastered the bullet holes, but were unable to restore the face of the Virgin.

It was around 1918, when nearly half the town of La Garita fell victim to a deadly flu virus, that several societies of Los Hermanos Penitente were established in the area. Very little remains of the chapels in the area where they once worshipped. Evidence has suggested the Pentitentes had, on occasion, used the canyon for Easter ceremonies, but with its newfound popularity as a climbing destination that use has subsided.

The canyon itself is part of the La Garita Caldera, a volcanic eruption that occurred in the San Juan Mountains about 26-28 million years ago. It is said to be the largest known explosive eruption in the Earth’s history, sending ash as far off as the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. The resulting deposit is called Fish Canyon Tuff, which is volcanic ash molded together.. The resulting geological formations are ideal for the sport of rock climbing.

All I know is it was hot, the scenery was not that pretty, the trails were mostly rocky and steep and my feet had blisters.  At one point we reached a junction and Mr. W said he had no idea where we were but he knew for sure we were not lost. What???? We did meet some other hikers shortly after that and they assured us that we were on the right path.  Not my idea of a really fun day, but beat the heck out of Texas July heat.

Looks like a gorilla rock

Part of the shady trail

Glad I didn't eat that second cookie! I would not have been able to get through this part of the trail



Part of the no shade in a 100 miles trail



This is the new church that has been built.  It is only used for special events.